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Megna throws hat into Supreme Court race (UPDATE)

By SCOTT BAUER
Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) – Noted lemon law attorney Vince Megna, who in recent months has posted numerous satirical videos online lampooning Gov. Scott Walker and other Republicans, told The Associated Press on Friday that he is running for the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Megna, known nationally for his successful record of bringing lawsuits on behalf of car owners against automobile companies, dealerships and others, said his candidacy is no joke.

“I’ve only been considering this for 24 hours, but I am absolutely serious,” Megna told the AP. “I’ve never ran for anything and if there was anything I would ever run for, this is the only thing.”

Megna is the first announced candidate to challenge Justice Patience Roggensack, who is up for re-election in the April 2 election. Two others, Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi and Marquette University law professor Ed Fallone, said this week they are considering entering the race.

If more than two candidates run, there would be a Feb. 19 primary.

Although races for the Supreme Court are officially nonpartisan, recent elections to the high court have been run like traditional campaigns with conservatives and liberals lining up behind their chosen candidate.

The 68-year-old Megna’s politics are transparent.

“I’m going to bring a completely different perspective to the court,” Megna said. “Justice Roggensack is a strict conservative. I would not be. I think everybody in the state knows me knows that I am not a conservative.”

The Supreme Court has grown more divided in recent years, and is generally viewed to have four conservative justices, two liberals and one swing justice.

While Megna has built his reputation since 1990 upon arguing and winning four lemon law cases before the state Supreme Court, in recent months he’s taken to creating biting political satire and posting it online.

His first video was a lampoon of Walker and the law that effectively ending collective bargaining rights for most public workers. Megna filmed it surreptitiously in the governor’s Capitol conference room and it includes a joke that revolves around an obscene gesture.

In his most recent video, Megna documents his filing of a complaint against former Gov. Tommy Thompson’s son Jason Thompson for saying at a fundraiser that President Barack Obama should be sent back to Kenya. Megna wears clown shoes and imagines what a conversation between the elder Thompson and his son about the comment may have been, joking that Thompson may have told his son, “Jason you are one dumb mother (expletive).”

Megna said Friday he expects the videos to be brought up during the campaign – and he stands by them.

“I can explain every one of them,” Megna said. “Every one is based on my perspective and based on truth as far as I see it. I’m not a fan of Scott Walker, but I’m not seeking an appointment from Scott Walker either.”

Megna graduated from Marquette University Law School in 1973 and practiced law for five years before spending much of the 1970s and 1980s playing guitar in various rock bands in California. He returned to Milwaukee in 1986 and represented his first client in a lemon law case in 1990.

Just hours before Megna’s announcement, Fallone said he was considering running but said he wanted to avoid a primary, which would be a key factor in his decision. Fallone did not immediately return a message Friday seeking comment on how Megna’s entry in the race affects his decision.

Fallone said he was interested in running to restore integrity to the Supreme Court, which in recent years has made headlines for in-fighting among the justices. In one incident, Justice David Prosser placed his hands near the neck of Justice Ann Walsh Bradley. The Wisconsin Judicial Commission is pursuing an ethics complaint against Prosser, who has denied wrongdoing.

“Members of the court as currently constituted have tried and tried to resolve their internal problems and have failed,” Fallone said in explaining his candidacy. “For the good of the state, it’s necessary to replace the personalities involved.”

Fallone, 48, graduated from Boston University Law School in 1988, worked as an attorney for four years in the private sector and has been a faculty member at Marquette teaching corporate and constitutional law for 20 years.

Sumi announced Thursday that she was seriously considering a bid, but wouldn’t make up her mind until closer to Dec. 1, when candidates can begin circulating nominating papers.

Sumi, a judge since 1998, is best known for her ruling blocking implementation of Walker’s collective bargaining law on the grounds that lawmakers violated the open meetings law in the process of passing it. Her ruling was subsequently overturned by the Supreme Court, with Roggensack siding in the majority.

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